Aussie Great Debate: Young Aussies are rejecting drug use for an unexpected reason

Australian’s habits are changing, with new data showing a generation turning away from the illicit use of drugs.

News.com.au’s Great Aussie Debate survey asked more than 50,000 people about their relationship with drugs.

Of those that participated, 50 per cent said they had never used recreational drugs. The remaining participants were able to select multiple options with most saying they had tried marijuana (42 per cent) then cocaine (18 per cent), ecstasy (18 per cent) and methamphetamines (9 per cent). Interestingly, the data told us a lot about generational use of drugs.

Those aged 40-49 were most likely to have used meth (13 per cent), while the use of marijuana was similar between those aged 30 through to 59 (45 per cent).

The biggest age groups that had never used recreational drugs were those aged 18-29 (52 per cent), 60-69 (62 per cent) and those aged over 70 (79 per cent).

Dr Vincent Candrawinata said that drugs appealing to certain ages could stem from something as simple as “availability” and “laws” at the time.

“Certain drugs are easier to obtain, legally or illegally, and drugs that were plentiful and easy to get in one decade might prove almost inaccessible next,” he told news.com.au

Dr Candrawinata explained that the popularity of a drug could also come down to the “stigma” at the time.

“Cannabis is much more acceptable now than five or 10 years ago. The sixties and seventies with pot and hallucinogenic, the eighties with cocaine,” he said.

For instance, cocaine is more normalised for Aussies in their thirties and *Jake, 31, told news.com.au that his habit was the only reason he got cash out from the bank anymore.

“I only use cash when I want to buy drugs and it’s the same for my friends,” he said.

The doctor explained that “generational traits” also played a role in drug use and social norms really impacted people’s relationships with drugs. For instance, if it isn’t normal to get cash out that can be seen as a deterrent.

He said that while Millennials were arguably the best-educated about drug use, they were also an incredibly “stressed” generation and that had shaped their relationship with drugs.

“Statistically, Millennials are the most affected generation when it comes to drug use, abuse and death, and Millennials are also the generation that have endured the brunt of transitioning from analog to digital,” he said. “This generation is stressed and depressed.”

Generation Z has gone in the other direction and are rejecting drug culture.

Dr Candrawinata thinks their disinterest comes from “trends” and not because they have more self-control then other generations.

“Similar to how Millennials viewed smoking as something un-trendy, drugs seem less appealing to Gen Z,” he said.

“I think this is because simply there’s more stuff to do for entertainment; they are digital natives. There are a lot more options to be connected but not necessarily in person – which drastically reduces the effect of peer pressure,” he said.

However, Dr Candrawinata pointed out that, while Gen Z has managed to be less invested in drugs, they have their own issues to deal with.

“Drug use is a form of behavioural addiction. Yes, the use of drugs in Gen Z is lower than Millennials, but the behavioural addiction is still there; it is just on different things, such as Snapchat,” he said.

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